Metro Diaries: Chants
23rd January, 2014
Looking out of the wide double paned window, I could see dual reflection of mine that was almost overlapping which made me look more hazy than I usually am. But, it also let me to imagine as to how my dual reflections would appear before me if I had worn the 3D glasses that I had flipped from a multiplex on a recent movie outing. A three dimensional reflection of thyself would be a fascinating idea and just like as it happens in all my dreams, I would be the protagonist of the 3D reflective world.
Don’t know where the thoughts flew thereafter. Perhaps they took a backseat while the music played in my ears through the small earphones and my eyeballs moved from left to right capturing whatever pictorial depictions it could capture at a distance across the windows. Flyovers, buildings, neon lit boards, glass facades, cars, skyline of Delhi. That is what you usually see when you gaze out of the double paned windows of the Delhi Metro.
Amongst those seated right in front of me, of all those gloomy faces which had a mark of respite from the return from work (at least till the following morning), was a face of a man wearing spectacles with the white side bars. It wasn’t the face that caught my attention but it was his tie. Just the fact that he was wearing a tie in that crowded coach of worn out men and women was enough to notice him. There was nothing unusual about the tie. It was a normal, plain grey colored tie with some red spots on it. Quite a regular pattern so to speak.
With the music flowing through my ears, I saw this guy mumbling his lips as if speaking to someone. The person seated next to him was not the one who would usually be hanging out with a guy with the tie. Perhaps he was talking to someone on his phone. I tried to search for the wire with speaker, if any, through which he could be talking. But there was none, and there was no sign of the Bluetooth device plugged into the ears. I removed one of the ear plugs to hear a sound if any made by those mumbles. But there wasn’t any.
Were these abnormal involuntary movements?
He held a small olive green sack in his hand. The first impression about the sack was that it would be a ‘Tupperware’ lunch box bag that goes perfectly with a guy with white side bar glasses, with a black ‘hp’ laptop bag and wears a tie. But, a closer look and I saw his right hand was inside the sack with only his fore finger out of the it. And I saw Krishna’s face etched onto the sack. Perhaps he was praying.
He looked tense as he kept on mumbling. I plugged back my ear phones and continued listening to the music. The mumbling continued. I wasn’t looking out of the double paned windows anymore. What was he mumbling? I looked at others seated in front of me and no one seemed to move an inch. The lips mumbled faster. Was he tense? There on the olive green sack, as he rotated it was etched:
and be Happy
He wasn’t exactly mumbling these words of the chant, I was sure of that. What was he praying? What was he praying for? It seemed he was on the verge of a breakdown as the mumbling grew almost frantic. His eyes rolled over and our eyes made contact for the first time for a fraction of a second. The eyes seemed to say, don’t look at me, leave me alone. And I obliged. For a few seconds maybe.
The praying continued in the form of frantic mumbles. Our eyes met again. This time it said to me, it’s alright, I am fine. And they met again.
Was his world coming to an end? Why was his world coming to an end?
I should go up to him. I should hold him by his shoulders, press them and tell him- it’s alright, everything will be fine, you need to calm down. I wished that he calmed down. I wished I could instill hope in him that there is nothing to worry about and that he should take it easy. I knew I couldn’t walk up to a stranger and grab him by his shoulders and ask him to calm down. For a fraction of second the eyes met again and this time said nothing to me.
Three or four metro stations passed by and with two more stations to go before my stop arrived, I thought that maybe a smile during the next eye contact would help. Yes, a gentle smile is all it takes to calm down the nerves. I wished I could make an eye contact. I wished I could have a look in his eyes and smile and which would stop the mumbling. My stop would be arriving soon and I had to smile at least. The next eye contact was made shortly but I couldn’t smile. I didn’t know it takes an effort to muster courage in order to smile at a stranger.
I have to try again, I thought.
But why do I need him to be calm? I don’t know. Why would I wish to grab a person by his shoulders to calm him down? Why would I smile at a stranger to ease his nerves? I don’t know.
A stop before mine, the metro slowed down. The guy stopped mumbling, took his hand out of the olive sack and put the sack in his black ‘hp’ bag. The metro stopped and the doors opened. He looked at me. This time for more than a fraction of a second. He looked into my eyes, smiled at me, stood up and left. The doors closed.
I turned back and tried to look out of the window again. This time I saw my 3D reflection staring back at me.